Sunday, April 12, 2009

Making Mistakes

I don't do Easter baskets.

I know, I know--I'm robbing my children of a great American {*ahem* pagan *ahem*} tradition, not to mention a sugar high. (I already got the look of shock from Pflower this morning.) I just don't want my children thinking that Easter is bunnies, eggs, and candy. I want them to associate Easter with the amazing gift of the Atonement. I want them to know that Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected for them.

A few weeks ago, Sweet Boy called home from school. He had been there less than an hour, so when I saw "P-- School District" on the Caller ID, my heart did a giant leap into my throat.

SB: {teary voice} "Mom?"

Me: "Sweet Boy! Are you okay? What happened?"

SB: "My backpack is gone!"

Me: "Gone? What do you mean? Was it stolen?"

SB: "I don't know! I thought I had it on my back--it felt like it was there on my back--but when I got to school and went to take it off, it was just gone! I looked everywhere, but it's not there. And I won't have a lunch today because my lunchbox was in there too!" {breaks down into tears}

Me: "Oh, Sweet Boy! It's okay. You won't go without lunch because I'll bring you another one. It will be okay--we'll find your backpack. But in the meantime, I'll make sure you have lunch today."

SB: {sniffing loudly} "Okay. Thanks, Mom."

I hung up the phone and got J Boo and Mr. Wiggle Brows loaded in the car to do the drop-off at preschool. I told Phil what happened, and he offered to drive by the school on his way to work and see if he could see the backpack outside. I planned to do the same on the way back from my drop-off duties. Neither of us saw anything.

When I returned home, the thought came to me to check Sweet Boy's room before starting a 2nd lunch for him. Lo and behold, there was the backpack, hanging on the hook where he keeps it in his room, lunchbox and homework present. What a relief! Sweet Boy was so happy to see his backpack (and even happier to see his lunch). He laughed when I told him where it was and was a good sport when his classmates teased him. Happy day for Sweet Boy, happy day for mom.

Later that evening, as Phil and I were getting ready for bed, Phil asked THE QUESTION.

"So, what do you think Sweet Boy learned from this experience so that it won't happen again?"

(Can I tell you how much I detest THE QUESTION? It always feels so patronizing. When I goof up, I don't really want to verbally rehash the painful lesson learned in order to "prove" that I learned something. And the kids don't like it either. Some lessons are meant to be learned privately.)

Here was my response: "He learned that his mother loves him enough to make him another lunch if his gets lost so he won't go hungry to school. He learned that it's okay to make mistakes, and it's good to be able to laugh at yourself when you do."

It stopped Phil dead in his tracks.

And it got me thinking about making mistakes.

Not long after the backpack incident, Sweet Boy was scheduled to take part in a violin recital. He was nervous. When we got there that night, I could see him getting more and more agitated. He got teary and told me, "What if I make a mistake? I'll be so embarrassed, and then I'll burst into tears, and I'll be even more embarrassed! It will be just like the fiddle contest!"

The recital started, and I did my best to help ease Sweet Boy's fears. There were several performers before it would be his turn, and it worked out great. Every single performer made some kind of mistake. I'm sure the people around me who could hear my whispers were annoyed to have me pointing out the mistakes to my little boy, but I needed him to see that everyone makes mistakes, and it's not the end of the world if they do. He began to relax a little.

Then Lorien's oldest son got up to play his pieces. He sounded great! But part way through one of his songs, he forgot where he was and had to stop completely. His mind went blank, and he could not remember where he was in the music.

"Whoops, I forgot where I was," he grinned, sheepishly. Then he picked up his bow, found a different starting place, and finished the song.

I leaned over to Sweet Boy and said, "See, C-- goofed up big time. Did you notice how he responded? He just said, 'Whoops,' and started over. Maybe, if you make a mistake, you could say, 'Oh poop!'" He started to giggle. (I had to play to that potty humor streak that boys have.)

"Or maybe you could say, 'Oh poop nuggets!'" That got him laughing even harder. He was no longer near tears, and he got up and played his best. No one noticed his goofs, and he didn't get embarrassed, and he didn't cry.

Not long after that, we attended the Draper Temple dedication. During the program, President Monson made a mistake in his conducting and announced a song from the choir that they had already sung. President Uchdorf stopped him, he corrected the error with a bit of humor, and went on. I leaned over to Sweet Boy and said, "See? Even the prophet makes mistakes sometimes." He smiled.

And I prayed silently in my heart that he would remember these mistakes--the ones he made, and the ones others made. I prayed that he would remember that making a mistake does not mean the end of the world. Mistakes can be handled with humor and grace. Making mistakes is an opportunity to learn, grow, and repent.


So I don't do Easter baskets. A mistake? I don't think so. Because my children will know that, because of the great and powerful Atonement, they can make mistakes and still return to live with Heavenly Father. Because of their relationship with their Savior, mistakes can be rectified. Because of the Savior's gift of blood, sweat, death, and then life, they, too, will live again, even if they have made mistakes. And no amount of plastic eggs, chocolate rabbits, or jelly beans will teach them that.


AzĂșcar said...

I get THE QUESTION sometimes really is annoying, isn't it?

Mrs. Organic said...

Can I just say that your answer to THE QUESTION was pure genius.

Michemily said...

Wow, it is really hard to read your white text with that background. Luckily I read it on Google Reader. I loved this post. It put things into perspective.

Carrot Jello said...

I give you the mother of the year award.

Kengo Biddles said...

I hope I can be as good a dad as you're a mom. :)

Anonymous said...

I really love this post. I feel like I learned something.

In my husband's family, the tradition (which our family has taken up) was to do Spring Baskets at the Spring Equinox. That way we get the candy, but it is separate from Easter. On the other hand, we pretty much always have candy in our house, so the Spring Baskets aren't such a big deal. Neither is Halloween, for that matter. Well, at least they're not confused about Easter.

NiHao said...

Nice post...would make the perfect framework for a church talk.

Queen Scarlett said...

I love this. LOVE IT. Beautiful.

Sister Pottymouth said...

Az: YES! It drives me up the wall. Dalene suggested that I respond with, "Let me consult the oracle."

Mrs. O: Thank you. It just came to me. (I'd like to think it was inspiration.)

Michemily: Is this any better?

Carrot: Wow! You gave me an award? I'm so flattered!

Kengo: {blush} Thanks. I'm not all that great most of the time, but I occasionally rise to the occasion.

Madhousewife: I like the idea of celebrating the spring equinox. I had heard of that from my SIL. Nice to be able to get the best of both traditions. I have nothing against baskets, eggs, and candy, I just don't do them.

NiHao: Wash your mouth out right now. You're going to get me in trouble. Of course, I give you full permission to use this as a framework for your own talk in church...

Sister Pottymouth said...

QS: Thank you!

Elizabeth-W said...

Great post!

Millie said...

This was a linker! :)

Gerb said...

THE QUESTION... I get every form of that blasted thing all the time!!

And, by the way, this post is just another reason that I love you.

Lesleigh said...

You handled it ALL so well. You're my hero!

NOBODY said...

Loved every last DROP of this post. I know you didn't write this to toot your own horn, but YOU are a good mom. And I will be a mom like this too. Thank you for sharing.

The backpack story is very funny too.

Chrissy said...

I love what you wrote! Doug used to ask me THE QUESTION. It must run in the family. Now he doesn't because he knows I'll just say something about my mental health or I'll tickle him.

We don't do Easter baskets either. We take a fun Easter morning walk.

mindyluwho said...

I loved this post. What beautiful lessons you taught. Thank you Millie for linking! We don't do Easter Baskets at our house either and for the same reasons.

I'm glad that my husband isn't the only one who asks THE QUESTION! I loved your response!

sue-donym said...

This is my favorite post of yours. Beautiful.

Karolyn said...

I Loved this whole post and I am wondering if I can quote you for one of my around the house quotes. I like to put quotes around the house esspecially in front of the potty! (Just ask any of my siblings the footprints in the sand poem) The part I want to use is: "Making a mistake does not mean the end of the world. Mistakes can be handled with humor and grace. Making mistakes is an opportunity to learn, grow, and repent." I would like to "sign" it Sister Potty mouth if that is OK.

You have given me some great ideas as to how to handle Easter. I have realized since being a grown-up that there really is meaning to these holidays and I would like for my girls to realize that before they have to be grown-ups. I believe it would help all age groups.
I love you Sister Potty-mouth!

pflower10 said...

I would just like to say that I was not horrified, for long at least.... I had just never heard of NOT doing Easter Baskets. I had to think on that.

I love the idea of a Spring Equinox Basket in it's place. Does this mean I get to buy a new Spring Equinox dress next year? And dye Spring Equinox eggs?

But most of all I love how tender you are with SB.

LOVED the post!